Can you incorporate a "jump to conclusions" mat, maybe?
July 7, 2008 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Help me plan a (fun!) scavenger hunt for my organization.

I'm in charge of planning a staff team building retreat at the non-profit I work for. We're a small organization, and there would be fewer than 15 people attending the retreat.

An external facilitator will run the morning's activities, and then we'll have a "just for fun" afternoon. I polled all the employees about what they'd specifically like to do in the afternoon, and the consensus is a scavenger hunt.

I'm going to avoid the "follow the clue" type of scavenger hunt and go for more of a points-for-finding-something-or-doing-something approach.

1) I want to avoid or limit driving if at all possible.
2) At the same time as avoiding driving, I want to keep the scavenger hunt inside as much as possible. August in NC is hot.
3) There is a pretty big discrepancy in education level among staff. We have many MD/PhD level staff as well as high school graduates.
4) Has to be free--no buying q-tips or whatever
5) Three hour time limit, approximately
6) As fun as possible.
7) What do I put on the list of things to "get?"

I've looked online at some of the lists that have been used for other scavenger hunts, but they seem to be either way difficult, require driving, or are just plain inappropriate for the context.

I thought of perhaps doing the scavenger hunts in museums. There are 3 free state museums in the area--art, history and natural sciences. Two are in the same block. Is this uncool for the museum staff? We'd be well-behaved.

This previous question gives some ideas about the planning, but doesn't address many of my questions.

So, summary: Where to have a scavenger hunt in or around Raleigh, NC and what to put on the list of things to find. Fun, free, mostly inside, little driving,
posted by Stewriffic to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
How about some checkpoint ideas from Raleigh's Urban Challenge from 2003 and 2002?
posted by KathyK at 1:06 PM on July 7, 2008

If you do a photo scavenger hunt, nobody has to spend any money (assuming the company will pay for one-time-use polaroids or people are willing to bring their digital cameras). Digital photos are especially good if you can hook people's cameras up to a big TV/monitor to view the results.

Do you have any large malls you could send people to? That's my next suggestion after museums for places with A/C and enough stuff going on to make a fun scavenger hunt.

Assuming you're having them take pictures, and not bring things back, here are a couple suggestions:
- twins
- strange fashions of your choice (neon-colored hair, fanny pack, bow tie, etc.)
- team in a human pyramid/YMCA positions/etc.
- a duck (or some other random animal of your choice)
posted by vytae at 1:13 PM on July 7, 2008

No tips about location, but what about a photography scavenger hunt? Chances are a good percentage of your folks have digital cameras and if you group them up, you'll only need one camera per group. It can be done anywhere that photography is allowed (I like the museum idea, just check their policy on photos) and doesn't require anything to be purchased, though you will need a computer to download all the photos into.
posted by platinum at 1:14 PM on July 7, 2008

Doh, vytae beat me to it!
posted by platinum at 1:14 PM on July 7, 2008

My old boss put a fun, work related one together, some of the items she required were a penny from a specific year, the business card of one of our Vice Presidents, the number of pictures containing a particular object in our cafeteria, the year the building was constructed, etc.

Basically, it was a combination of data (facts that had to be investigated), objects that needed to be found through luck, or items that required you to be bold enough to ask for it. It was pretty cool.

I used a similar one with my employees, but I added in an internet component: I asked questions from the CIA fact-book (city populations), IMDB (movie and actor stuff), and Wikipedia searchable facts. So if your people will have access to computers, this might be an option.
posted by quin at 1:27 PM on July 7, 2008

The museum idea sounds really cool! Do you think the museums allow photography, especially if you don't use a flash? You could avoid paying for cameras by asking a few of your coworkers to bring in their digital cameras. Make those people the team captains so you'll be guaranteed that at least one person will know how to work the camera.

You could have a list of activities where the participants interact with the exhibits photographically. This will probably heavily favor the hams, but you might get some funny moments. For example:

1. Take a photo where it looks like a team member is holding a statue in their hand.
3. Take a photo with everyone looking afraid of a dinosaur
2. Take a photo where it looks like one of the participants is kissing a portrait subject on the cheek.
3. Take a picture of your teammates saluting a historical figure
5. Take a picture of everyone looking stumped by an abstract painting
6. Offer a teammate a dollar for a ming vase
7. Pretend to eat a woodchuck...etc.

You could also do a Guiness Book scavenger hunt. That means that all of the teams compete for points to find the oldest, newest, largest (and so on...) objects in the museum. For example, whoever finds the oldest painting gets the point, you could have teams take pictures and reward the first time stamp for tie breakers.

Have fun!
posted by Alison at 1:31 PM on July 7, 2008

I've had great times on photo scavenger hunts. My most memorable involved one where we had to stage a protest about some issue (and photograph ourselves doing it). The winning team protested the sale of blenders at Macy's and quickly threw together protest signs on scraps of cardboard that said, "Frappe No Way!" and "Liquify: The Big Lie" Or maybe they just chanted these? I can't remember. Other acts we had to photograph included finding a body of water and swimming in it (I still have the poloroid of my friend, shirtless, in a fountain), getting a photo with a cop wearing a silly hat (we got a security guard to don one) and prepping someting edible for the other team to eat at the end.
posted by serazin at 1:39 PM on July 7, 2008

Response by poster: When I was thinking museum I was thinking more along the lines of information gathering, so photos weren't on my radar. I'd have to see if they allow non-flash photography. Easy enough to check out.

KathyK, I'm going to have to organize a bunch of friends to do that Urban Challenge thing. It looks hilariously fun. I didn't look too closely at it, because there are puzzles involved, and I wouldn't want to ruin it!

I LOVE the specific suggestions of things to put on a list that y'all are coming up with. I'm not necessarily enormously creative, so it's helping a ton.
posted by Stewriffic at 1:55 PM on July 7, 2008

Is everyone staying at the same location (hotel or some place)? I've organized many scavenger/treasure hunts for convention attendees that took place in and around the hotel at which everyone was staying. I picked out a variety of destinations, and then placed a puzzle or photo clue at each one. The participants (we had them form teams of three) were handed two or more pages of puzzles/instructions and had to decipher the clues that took them to a particular destination, then they had to identify the item found there. For example, at one hotel the in-house restaurant was called "Rose Garden." The instruction sheet we gave the participants listed something that looked like a standard word search puzzle, but if they read it vertically from left to right it spelled out "Smile for a while and let's be jolly, life shouldn't be so melancholy, come and share the good times while we can. I beg your pardon, I never promised you a." Those players who'd deciphered the puzzle went to the hotel restaurant and found a picture taped to the side of the hostess stand. (The next item on their instruction sheets simply asked "What do you see?" Participants who had correctly made their way to the restaurant had to jot down the person/object in the picture.)
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2008

Ditto the museum. And no just a list of things to find i.e. the Mona Lisa, but a list where the players have to collude to determine what qualifies, i.e. The most expensive object in said museum, the oldest, the largest etc. Then combine that with some actual problem solving skill like a puzzle that incorporates the correct answers and cannot be solved without a fair amount of correct answers. Then that puzzle leads them back to a spot where the team that arrives first wins. Think a cross between your typical scavenger hunt and one of Survivor's challenges
posted by Gungho at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2008

Response by poster: Is everyone staying at the same location (hotel or some place)?

Nope. It will be in the town we work in.

I've read about the puzzle piece type of scavenger hunt, but since I'd like to participate as well as create the hunt, I'm looking to avoid situations where I'd know the answer ahead of time.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:31 PM on July 7, 2008

I do a scavenger hunt every year for my Halloween party. This usually has 2-4 teams of 2 people each, although last year they were on their own. As every year we are in a different location, I change it up a lot. My rules are no stealing, killing, or breaking something and it must all be acquired safely and legally. They usually last 1-2 hours. Everyone gets a bag, gloves, a list, and a pen.

One year we stayed at a hotel and the items were things like coasters, people's phone numbers, left over food, and gross things like dead insects, drain hairs, and such. Another year we were in Downtown Portland and the list (usually over 50+ items, with points based on assumed difficulty) included business cards, brochures, getting random people to draw pictures for you, etc... I had provided a printed map of downtown and the boundaries. The year we stayed at the beach it was all beach & tourism related- specific shells, sand, driftwood, seaweed, hotel information. One year we were in a graveyard and beyond looking for certain flowers & specimens, everyone had a (digital) camera and had to take pictures of graves from different years, with certain names, or symbols. Last year we went to Wal-mart (it represented Greed for the 7 deadly sins) and the items were things like discarded tags, napkins, free informational booklets, and so on.

Basically, just pick your location and think about what can be found for free in the location, or what you can get people to ask strangers for... I have found that people had the most fun getting things that required interaction, like a menu from a waitress or a piece of uncooked pasta from a hotel chef.
posted by haplesschild at 4:53 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm late to this, but I just want to put in my $0.02 about museums. I am museum staff. The lowest of the low (well, I used to I work at the desk (go me). We (usually) love having people come in and do scavenger hunts. It's typically elementary school groups, though, so you might be the Weird Old People, but no one's going to care. As long as you maintain a reasonable volume level (guards don't really care as long as no one else is complaining) and don't touch anything, you're going to be fine. It's especially cool when the tiny children come up to you and say "do you know where this is?" all secret-like, and you can sneak around with them and act goofy like you're going to get in trouble for giving away the answer. hehe

Basically, working in a museum is boring as hell; anytime people go through it excited and full of energy makes the day suck slightly less.
posted by phunniemee at 5:18 AM on July 13, 2008

Response by poster: phunniemae, thank you so much for the insight. I've been kind of humming and hawing to myself about the museum component, out of fear of invoking the wrath of staff. YAY!
posted by Stewriffic at 6:23 PM on July 15, 2008

Response by poster: Followup:

The scavenger hunt was yesterday, and I didn't go for the museum idea. Instead, we did a combo photo/item hunt. Each team had a list of photos and a list of items. Many of them came from here. The hunt itself took place in an outdoor shopping center that's adjacent to our worksite. Not quite a mall, but kind of.

I staggered the time, telling them to turn in the photos at a certain time, but not the items until 30 minutes following. In the interim, I uploaded the photos and put together a slideshow. Then when they got back, the slideshow was on. They liked it, I think!
posted by Stewriffic at 3:52 PM on September 23, 2008

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